HCNSO Student Theses and Dissertations

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. Marine Biology

First Advisor

David Kerstetter

Second Advisor

Christopher Blanar

Third Advisor

Nicole Kirchhoff


Many reef fishes initially recruit into mangroves, and then migrate out to reef habitats as they grow and mature. Each ontogenetic habitat shift exposes migrants to previously unencountered parasite taxa, potentially increasing parasite species richness and driving changes in parasite community structure. However, studies on this topic rarely attempt to distinguish between the location effects of habitat shifts versus a simple increase in physical size. Therefore we contrasted parasite community richness and structure in Great Barracuda Sphyraena barracuda (N=84), Atlantic Needlefish Strongylura marina (N=49), Crevalle Jack Caranx hippos (N=59), White Mullet Mugil curema (N=90), and Yellow-fin Mojarra Gerres cinnerus (N=60) from three locations: mangrove, inshore seagrass beds, and offshore reef habitats. Mullet harbored the highest species richness (S=26, mean infracommunity S=2.4±1.6) and Atlantic Needlefish the lowest (S=8, mean infracommunity S=0.5±0.8). A global model including species, location, and size class was significant (R2=0.654, DF 17, F=35.91, p

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